Blood Biomarker May Indicate Development of Type 1 Diabetes

Presence of 12-HETE found in the blood of patients with newly-onset diabetes.

Researchers from the 3U Diabetes Consortium, which includes Dublin City University, Maynooth University, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, have discovered a novel biomarker that may detect Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disorder that is characterized by the immune system attacking insulin-producing beta cells, which leads to little or no insulin production. Since patients are typically diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood, achieving long-lasting disease control and forming good habits is important for preventing complications.

The condition can progress quickly, and requires that patients manage their glucose levels, food intake, exercise, and insulin levels. While only 5% of all diabetes patients are diagnosed with type 1, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial for living a healthy life, according to the American Diabetes Association. The investigators believe that a new biomarker could lead to earlier diagnoses and, subsequently, better outcomes.

The authors found the presence of 12-HETE in blood samples of newly-diagnosed patients, according to a study published by Diabetic Medicine. Interestingly, the substance was not found in blood samples of patients with established type 1 diabetes.

These findings may indicate that 12-HETE is only present when the condition is developing, and shows its potential as a biomarker for the onset of diabetes when used alongside other established factors.

To continue their research, the study authors are now analyzing older blood samples from patients who went on to develop type 1 diabetes.

If they find that 12-HETE is present in the blood prior to diabetes onset, the authors said they believe it could be used to develop a screening test for the general population, according to the study.

Early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is crucial to preventing life-threatening complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, where the body is unable to process sugar and break down fats, which results in high levels of ketones in the blood.